A memoir to movie tip to help you write books that readers can’t put down. 

“Memoir is about handing over your life to someone and saying – this is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it.”

Jeanette Walls

Someone once told me – “Christine I can always spot a memoir you’ve worked on because it reads like a movie!”

I was grateful for such a beautiful compliment! I also wasn’t completely shocked as, whether working as a book writing coach or a ghostwriter, I draw few distinctions between novel writing, screenwriting, fiction, and nonfiction. A great story is a great story. 

To my knowledge, two client memoirs that I have worked on are currently being turned into films. I’m excited for my clients and all the additional people their stories will now be able to reach through this transition from memoir to movie.

So today, for all of you who want to write “Hollywood worthy” books, memoirs or otherwise (because I believe all books are memoirs!) I am sharing one of my secrets for writing books that people can’t put down.

It’s one of those strategies that is disturbingly simple, but not necessarily easy…

A Memoir to Movie Tip: ROCK the opening and closing lines of your chapters.

Make those two respective sentences your writing everything. Spend extra time on them. Obsess over them. Elevate them into literary art forms.

As an example, here are the opening and closing lines to one of my favorite novels, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. 

Opening: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

Closing: “The eyes and faces all turned themselves towards me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.”

Gripping opening and closing lines, not just of your entire book, but of each chapter in it, are why readers will curse you at 3 a.m. They will be unable to put your book down. The opening sentence of the chapter should immediately send them hurtling down the rabbit hole of the chapter. And the last sentence of each chapter should be such a strong and compelling segue, that putting the book down is not an option.

So there you have it, a memoir to movie secret – obsess about your chapter opening and closing lines!

What movie worthy stories have YOU been carrying around? Whether you want to hire a memoir writer or need a book writing coach at your side, I LOVE helping people craft books that readers cannot put down. Let’s talk about getting your words in print to educate, inspire, and entertain the world!

Related Articles:

Memoir vs. Autobiography

4 Memoir Writing Prompts

Book Writing and Screenwriting Parallels 


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